Don’t Feed the Beast

Thanksgiving is done for another year. I am sitting in my Lazy Boy recliner with my “stretchy pants” on (I just realized I wrote Lazy Boy and stretchy pants referring to myself…ugh!) to accommodate for my recently increased girth, the result of too many helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy, pie, casserole, ice cream and whatever else was in front of my face last Thursday. When did Thanksgiving become about excessive consumption? Did the pilgrims and native Americans sit around the fire, peace pipes in hand with their pants unbuttoned? Did they commiserate together about how they needed a nap to sleep off their carb loading?

I practically needed help lifting our local newspaper off the front porch on Thanksgiving day. After I pulled out all the ads for “Black Friday” there was very little “news” to the “paper”. I measured the stack of ads…1 1/2 inches high! I started to look through the pile to see what my life was missing. Apparently a lot.  If I am to believe that my Christmas cannot be very merry unless I load up on all that I’m missing that appears in all these ads, it is going to be a very sad holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge and I love a nice gift but what is going on here?

“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…”        

Hebrews 13:5 NASB

Contentment is not a word you hear very often. I looked up the definition and though not comprehensive, I really like this one: “Being mentally and emotionally satisfied with things as they are.”  Such a simple definition, but the simplicity of the definition belies the complexity of attaining the experience. Huh? Translation: It ain’t easy being content. How many people can honestly say they are content? How do we attain true contentment? After spending a half hour looking at ads of  all the things “I need”, I can tell you that is not the path to contentment.

I read a very intriguing question posted on Facebook the other day. It is not my routine to pour over proverbial posts made on Facebook (in fact, most preachy posts on social media are either sappy or really annoying), but this one hit me unusually hard. The post was made in the form of a question and went something like this:

“If you were to wake up today and all you possessed was what you gave thanks for yesterday, what would you have?”  

2012 has been a year marked by transition for our family. After twenty years of difficult, full-time vocational ministry involvement our lives came to an abrupt halt as an unanticipated job loss left us with financial uncertainty. The means in which the transition came upon us was particularly harsh and left me wrestling with bitterness and resentment. For many months I vacillated between knowing the right attitude to possess and manifesting the wrong one internally. After many, many conversations with my Heavenly Father,  I began to let go of the frustration over what I did not have and began to offer thanks for what God has given me. At first my acknowledgments were a bit mechanical, but over the past several months my thanksgiving has gone from dutiful to heartfelt and full. I still have desires yet to be fulfilled but I am not going to allow unfulfilled desires to rob me of contentment. I am not perfected in this any means, but I am determined to not “feed the beast.”

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.          

Philippians 3:14-15 NASB